Alabama’s peak beach season is beginning to heat up, and tourists who are looking for some fun in the sun are starting to pour in from nearby states. The Yellowhammer State boasts some of the finest beaches in the world; and this year, the state’s beach tourism is being boosted by $1 million in Covid relief funds that is being spent on major travel advertising campaigns in Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, and other Southeastern states.
For many area families, summer vacations mean days or weeks spent frolicking the Gulf Coast beaches. But if you are planning a beach vacation this year, it is important to be aware of the inherent dangers that come with being in or near the ocean. Here are some things to watch out for:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) identifies rip currents as one of the biggest hazards that ocean swimmers and surfers face. Also known as undertow or riptides, rip currents are strong and narrow currents that flow outward from the beach area and can pull swimmers and surfers out into dangerously deep waters.
You do not have to go too far into the ocean to get caught in a rip current, and they are said to account for more than 80% of rescues that are performed by beach lifeguards. If you get caught in a rip current, the best thing to do is to swim out of the current (not against it), then swim to shore. If you need help, waive at or call the lifeguard for assistance.
Be especially careful if you are doing any beach-related activities on a windy day. High winds can create big waves that make it more difficult to swim or surf, and the wind can be very disruptive if you are going out on a boat, jet ski, or another type of watercraft. Monitor the weather report before you head to the beach, and if there are signs of more serious weather such as heavy rain, lightning, tropical storms, and hurricanes, leave the beach immediately and get to safety.
Pollution is all too common on America’s beaches. In fact, there is not a single coastline in any US state that does not have some type of polluted beach. Sewage, stormwater pollution, and other types of contaminants can make beachgoers very ill. Although beaches are monitored by health officials, it is best to look at reports ahead of time to see if there has been any pollution reported at the beach where you will be vacationing.
Be careful about structures that are attached to the water, such as piers and jetties. When structures like these are old and/or poorly maintained, they can deteriorate quickly because of their continual exposure to water. You should also be aware of structures like these if you are swimming or surfing as a strong wave or rip current can knock you into one of them and cause injury.
Excessive Sun Exposure
Many of us go to the beach just to lie in the sun and soak up the rays. But this is one of those activities where you can definitely get too much of a good thing. The sun’s strong UV rays can quickly cause sunburn, especially if you have light and/or sensitive skin. They can also cause eye problems and dehydration, and too much sun exposure over time can result in skin cancer.
Although it is a fairly rare occurrence, those who swim in the ocean run the risk of being attacked by a shark. Shark attacks have increased somewhat in recent years, but statistically you are still more likely to be hit by lightning and far more likely to be killed in a car crash than from a shark attack. Just be aware that they are out there and do your best to stay out of deep waters.
Important Safety Tips for Gulf Coast Vacations
- Heed all warnings and follow all instructions and posted signs.
- Keep a close eye on children playing at the beach, especially those who have not yet had swimming lessons.
- Bring a lifejacket for kids and others who are not strong swimmers but plan to be on the shore or in the water.
- Enter the ocean feet first as it is too shallow to dive in.
- Always monitor the weather report closely before starting your day at the beach.
- Only swim in waters where there is a lifeguard on duty.
- Use an adequate amount of sunscreen and limit your exposure to the sun.
- Have plenty of consumable fluids on hand and stay hydrated.
Suffered a Personal Injury in Alabama? Contact Burge & Burge for Legal Help
We at Burge & Burge hope you have lots of fun and stay safe on the Alabama beaches this summer. But if you do happen to get injured because of someone else’s negligence, remember that we are just a phone call away. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or give us a call at 205-251-9000. We look forward to serving you!